Safari Market Bazaar
4348 54th Street
San Diego, CA 92115
By Judi Curry
In continuing with San Diego Free Press “neighborhood watch”, it was time to venture into areas that I had never been before. I recently met a man that I thought might be the companion I was looking for and asked him if he would like to go with me to review the Safari Market. He said to me, and I believe this is a direct quote, “You couldn’t get me to go into that crime zone.”
Needless to say I am not seeing him anymore and was even more curious about what he considered a “crime zone.”
I asked a former Swiss student, a world traveler, if she would like to join me on this voyage, and she was all for it. Since the market doesn’t open until 2:00pm – closes at 8:00 pm – it was perfect timing for her. She could surf in the morning; continue writing her dissertation before we left, and take a well deserved break to join me before continuing on her dissertation.
It should be noted that Corinne was my student for the first time in 1992 and returned to the US several times before enrolling in the doctoral program at Alliant.
As we began our journey into City Heights, I realized that I did not have the actual address with me. I had written down “54th and El Cajon” and thought that would be sufficient to find it. Wrong. We drove down El Cajon looking for it, but it wasn’t on El Cajon.
We searched for the address on her Smart Phone and discovered it was on 54th – just steps away from El Cajon.
We were instructed by her GPS to make a U-turn, and turn into the driveway on the right side of the block. Except we missed it because it is a funky sort of a driveway that actually looks like it goes nowhere. You could almost hear the GPS saying, “you dummies! First you don’t have the address; now I tell you to make a U-turn and turn into the first driveway, and you miss it.”
We ignored her and once again made the U-turn to get into position to turn into the driveway. I won’t tell you how it happened but we missed it again. You know what they say about the 3rd time being the charm. Corinne parked the car and we were on our way.
I don’t know what I expected at the Safari Market. I had read about it on Google, but was not prepared for what we saw: a line-up up head-toe covered ladies with some of the most exotic colored fabrics I have ever seen.
This was the day it was over 90 degrees outside and horribly muggy. I can’t imagine what it was like inside – maybe 10 degrees warmer – no air conditioner – and these ladies didn’t ever break a sweat.
The market was very similar to the many antique shops we have in Ocean Beach where people buy a small space to exhibit their wares. That was what we found here, except that almost all of the stalls carried the same products. True, the patterns of the clothing was different, and I only saw girl’s dresses in one or two stalls, but for the most part it was the same merchandise, all within a state of disarray.
Gone were the nice clean rows of clothing; the uncluttered floors; the unpacked boxes that one sees in most American stores. No…it was so different here. Everything was all over – floor, in boxes, etc. I saw a dress that my 5 year old great-granddaughter would love to have; pink – her favorite color; butterflies on the skirts – she loves butterflies; faux pearls at the neckline – she will cost some man a bundle in jewelry later on – but it was too big.
The proprietor of this particular stall rummaged through boxes until she found a smaller size of the same dress. Even though I still know it is too big, I marveled at how she knew just where to look to find it, and for $20 I bought Riley a birthday gift for November.
I think the thing that bothered Corinne and me the most was that so many of the stalls were abandoned. I use that term on purpose. The stalls were locked up with iron gates, and “for lease” signs were everywhere. There was merchandise everywhere, in no order, and it reminded me of my kids’ rooms when they were younger. (It probably looks the same now, but I’m not there to see it!)
There was an eating area, a menu, and some evidence of foodstuffs, but no one to wait on you if you wanted to eat, and no place to sit down and eat that wasn’t covered with other chairs, merchandise, and mess. It looked like too many people took the “American Dream” to heart, and were unable to fulfill the dream. I hope that what we were seeing was the “start-up” procedures, but I fear it was not.
The Safari Market is an interesting place to visit – no crime – if you want something colorful, inexpensive, and different.
One more thing. When Corinne and I were ready to leave, we realized that someone had parked after us and there was no way we would be able to get our car on the road until the car next to us moved. We asked at the Market if they knew who the car belonged to as several people came to Corinne and gave her advice how to move the car. (See the picture.)
About 15 minutes later a lady came from the store very apologetic. She said she had never had an accident before – her brother had – and that’s why the tail light was broken; the side was dented, etc. Even though this was a very stressful situation, no one seemed particularly concerned; as this happened every day. Corinne and I laughed all the way to the next store.
(Part 2 of our adventure coming in a day or two).